Tag Archives: Atomic Blonde

Soundtrack Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

The soundtrack for John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum, is now available for purchase from Varèse Sarabande. In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, skilled assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin’s guild, the High Table, John Wick is excommunicado, but the world’s most ruthless hit men and women await his every turn. The score for this film was once again composed by Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy, Atomic Blonde), who to date has worked on every film in the John Wick series.

Regarding John Wick: Chapter 3, Bates had this to say:

“While his fight, stunt, and weapon work is second to none, Chad [Stahelski] embraces original music with equal passion – setting the table for Joel Richard and I to experiment and create a distinct “sound” for the John Wick world. Five years ago, we cranked “Killing Strangers” at concert volume in my studio. And now John Wick is a trilogy. Working with Chad has been a truly amazing experience.”

Having now seen all three John Wick films, I have to agree that the music for these films are very distinct indeed. One thing I like about John Wick: Chapter 3 and the series overall is that the music sounds the same across all three installments. As soon as you hear the first beat of music, you know you’ve come back to the world of assassins and John Wick. I’ve never quite been able to define the nature of the music in firm words, but the words that come to mind the most often are “techno-futuristic.” The music Bates creates weaves into the background and fight scenes almost seamlessly, creating this edgy, near-futuristic world that’s inhabited by Wick and a seemingly endless legion of assassins.

There’s some nice twists in this score also. “The Adjudicator” has an almost militaristic sound (fitting given the role she plays in the film) while “Elder Tent Offering,” quite ironically given what happens in that scene, has some of the most lyrical music in the score. But I think one of my favorites is “Winter at the Continental,” which is essentially a techno-remix of Vivaldi’s “Winter.” I remember hearing “Winter” played straight before the fight began, but I either didn’t realize or didn’t remember that there was also this fast-paced remix, which is really fun to listen to, since Bates takes Vivaldi and “modernizes” it for Wick’s world.

I really like the music Bates has created for John Wick: Chapter 3. It’s edgy, it’s fast-paced, but it also slows down when necessary, and it fits the film’s world perfectly. I love how Bates can insert slow moments out of nowhere, it’s easy to forget about them since most of the film is devoted to fights, but the slow moments are just as beautiful.

Let me know what you think about the music for John Wick: Chapter 3 in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

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Film 101: False endings

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*warning, I’m discussing the endings of multiple films so I suppose I should include a spoiler warning

You’ve seen it before: after a long and arduous battle, the bad guy (or group of bad guys) is defeated/killed and the surviving heroes all breathe a sigh of relief as they prepare to return to their mostly normal lives. But wait…what’s that noise? Oh no one of the bad guys isn’t dead and here he comes again!! That, in a nutshell, is the essence of a false ending in film. For a few minutes it seems like the story is wrapping up but it’s actually the prelude to another fight (or in some cases another full act of the story).

False endings are extremely common in horror films and are usually employed to lure the audience into a false sense of security (believing the danger is passed) before using a final jump scare that often takes the last surviving character. In non-horror examples, false endings are usually employed as an excuse to stretch out the ending of a film, either for dramatic or comedic reasons. There are far too many examples for an exhaustive list, but I will do my best to list some of the most notable examples from film history:

The Ten Commandments (1956): There’s a scene towards the end of the film when Rameses returns after his army is destroyed in the Red Sea. He vowed to kill his wife when he returned but when she points out that he failed to kill Moses, he flings the sword down and slumps onto his throne, his only explanation being “His god…IS God.” The way this scene ends, it could almost be viewed as the end of the film, as Moses and his people have safely crossed the Red Sea and Rameses has been thoroughly chastised for his hubris. But then the scene shifts back to the desert and the final act of the film truly begins.

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Alien (1979): This is probably one of the more famous examples. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has destroyed the Nostromo, escaping with her cat into a small shuttle. The danger seemingly passed, she prepares to put herself back into stasis to await rescue when OMG the Alien’s hand shoots out from a wall revealing it had stowed away on the escape ship. This leads to a final battle where a terrified Ripley must blow the Alien into space.

Aliens (1986): An equally notable example: the colony on LV-426 was blasted into oblivion with only Bishop, Hicks, Newt and Ripley escaping alive. They make it back to the Sulacco and prepare to get medical help for Hicks before setting a course for home when suddenly…Bishop is impaled from behind, revealing the fearsome Alien Queen stowed away and she’s madder than ever!

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003): As anyone who has seen this film knows, the end of this film has multiple false endings, with it seemingly taking forever to reach the true ending of Frodo sailing away into the West while Sam returns home to his family.

 

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The Descent (2005): This is possibly one of the cruelest false endings ever made. Sarah barely manages to escape the cave with her life and speeds away in her car. Suddenly she sees Juno, one of her dead companions sitting in the passenger seat which causes Sarah to snap awake and realize…it was all a dream, she’s still in the cave and the monsters are closing in.

John Wick (2014): A notable recent example comes in the first John Wick film. After fulfilling his mission and killing Iosef in revenge for killing his dog, the weary assassin prepares to return home. He’s even given a new car as ‘compensation’ for everything. All seems to be well…until Viggo learns that Marcus could’ve killed Wick several times before this and chose not too. When he informs Wick that he’s going after Marcus, the film shifts back into action and we get almost a full act of action and violence before finally reaching the true ending (Wick saves a dog from being put down and limps for home).

Atomic Blonde (2017): It could be argued that the ending sequence of this movie contains several false endings. For a few minutes it seems like the film is going to end with the revelation that Lorraine was Satchel all the time only to shift into an attempted assassination by her Russian handlers (which she escapes), leading to the shock revelation that Lorraine is actually American CIA (and there’s no way of knowing if that’s the actual truth but it’s where the film ends).

Other films with notable false endings include: Spectre (2015); A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984); 47 Meters Down (2017) and Final Destination 2 (2003).

What do you think of these false endings? Are there any examples you can think of that I didn’t list? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film 101

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My Thoughts on: Atomic Blonde (2017)

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For the first time in what feels like months (and I think it literally has been months) I got to go see a movie in theatres and the selection was Atomic Blonde!! I’ve been intrigued by this movie since I saw the first preview and it did not disappoint!

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In brief, Atomic Blonde takes place in November 1989, a few days before the Berlin Wall came down (literally). The plot revolves around attempts to recapture “The List”, a piece of microfilm that contains the names of every field agent currently working in the Soviet Union (if it falls into the wrong hands numerous operations would be compromised). Top MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is brought in to retrieve The List and to assassinate an operative known only as Satchel. Satchel has been working as a double agent for the Soviets for years. Lorraine’s primary contact in Berlin is David Percival (James McAvoy), a fellow British agent who has gone more than a little mental in the years he’s worked in Berlin.

I loved McAvoy’s performance as Percival. From the moment we meet him, there’s an immediate suspicion that he could be Satchel, the double agent. Numerous hints are given to suggest that he is secretly undermining Lorraine and it is seemingly confirmed when Percival shoots a man (who memorized the List) that they are trying to smuggle out of East Berlin (he ultimately drowns when the car he and Lorraine are in crashes into a river).

And then there’s Charlize Theron in a complete badass role as Lorraine Broughton. She is intense from beginning to end and I loved every minute of it. I can see why people made comparisons between her character and John Wick (though even without the comparison I enjoyed the character).

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You can tell that this story is adapted from a graphic novel (The Coldest City). I’m certain some of the scenes (like Lorraine emerging from a bathtub of ice) are taken straight from the pages of the story, and the fight scenes play out like they were taken straight from a comic story (they’re super-intense, with lots of high-intensity action and almost zero pauses).

The biggest thing I want to talk about is the twists that come at the end of the story (WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW). So as I said, almost the entire film is spent building up our expectation that Percival is actually a double agent. Except when the climax comes, it’s turned around and revealed that LORRAINE is Satchel, she is the one who has been feeding intel to the Russians, she needed to kill Percival to cover her tracks. That was Twist #1.

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THEN, the story goes to Paris, where Lorraine (now speaking with a Russian accent), is meeting with a Soviet spy (who we met earlier in Berlin) who is revealed to be her handler. Having been informed of her “true” allegiances to the British, the Soviet leaves her to be disposed of by a professional hit squad (they even ask if she would be so kind as to step onto the tarp so her death will not make a mess in the hotel room). But Lorraine fights them off and before killing the Soviet spy, reveals that all the intelligence she’s given to the Soviets over the years has been FALSE. So she’s actually a fake double agent. That was Twist #2.

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And the big kicker? The moment my jaw smacked the floor and my brain exploded? After being debriefed on all of this (the film bookends around Lorraine recounting all of this to MI6 and a CIA Agent) and agreeing that “none of this ever happened,” Lorraine heads to a private jet where she meets up with the CIA Agent. A montage reveals how she manipulated recordings and other evidence to show the British what they wanted to see and in actuality she’s American CIA (has been the entire time!!!). The CIA Agent who helped debrief her is waiting on the plane and she says (in an American accent) “Let’s go home.” And THAT Was Twist #3 (which came in the final sixty seconds of the film)!

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Those three twists led me to rethink EVERYTHING I had seen throughout the movie, because knowing that Lorraine is actually American CIA calls into question every motive and decision she made. And as the title of this post implies, I did NOT see any of these twists coming (which makes them the best kind of twists).

All in all, I liked Atomic Blonde. It was, as the saying goes, “a good popcorn film.” Sorry it took so long to get this review out, my life has been crazy for the last several months, but I’m glad you are sticking with me. Later!

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